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Concerns raised about airborne transmission in WA hotel quarantine

Liam Bartlett
Article image for Concerns raised about airborne transmission in WA hotel quarantine

An Occupational Hygienist says failure to acknowledge COVID-19 is transmitted through the air has been putting the community at risk.

There is still confusion over how a security guard contracted COVID-19 at a Perth quarantine hotel.

Yesterday Health Minister Roger Cook said it’s likely the man caught the virus by simply sitting near the door of an infected hotel guest.

Founder and CEO of Occuhealth, Dr Julia Norris, told 6PR’s Liam Bartlett the virus can be transmitted through the air in hallways.

“We are getting increasing evidence to suggest that, that is not just possible but highly probable,” she said.

“It transmits from person to person through aerosolized particles that contain the virus.”

She said lack of ventilation and fresh air in hotel rooms can compound the issue.

“Fresh air movement and air change is really important,” she said.

“This virus is transmitted via the airborne route, so anything that impacts on the airflow within buildings is going to be a risk factor that needs to be carefully considered.”

When the security guard became infected masks were not mandatory for security guards in WA’s hotel quarantine system.

Yesterday WA’s director of communicable disease control, Dr Paul Armstrong, said wearing a mask for 12 hours while sitting in a chair was an “uncomfortable situation.”

But the prospect of airborne transmission prompted health authorities to concede masks should be worn, and now all security guards will be required to wear masks at all times when working at quarantine hotels.

“Any appropriate risk assessment of this scenario would suggest their is a risk of coming into contact with high risk travellers … so we should be applying the most stringent form of control,” Dr Norris said.

Click play to hear the full interview. 

(Photo: iStock by Getty Images.)

Liam Bartlett
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